LAHORE - The Punjab police has banned the use of cellphones by officers while on duty and barred them from capturing videos of other police personnel on duty, it emerged on Monday.

Following the increase in video clips displaying Punjab Police’s brutality and misconduct, Inspector General of Police Arif Nawaz has forbidden officers below the rank of SHO from using video recording enabled smart phones inside police stations.

Citizens too will not be allowed to take cellphones inside police stations and required to deposit them outside when they enter.

A communiqué sent to all Punjab police officers by the additional inspector general on behalf of the Punjab IG stated that it had been observed that police officials were using mobile phones while on duty even though “clear directions in this regard have already been conveyed to all field formations”.

“Frequent violations of these directions/SOPs reflect badly on the performance of supervising officers,” it said, stressing that it was the responsibility of the field formations to get the instructions implemented “in letter and spirit”.

“In future, no officer below the rank of SHO (Station House Officer) or in-charge of a deployed duty will use cellphone while on duty,” the letter decreed.

It also said that it was “strictly forbidden” to make a video of police officers on duty or upload a video of police officers performing their duty.

Any violations of the order will entail “severe departmental action” against the police personnel involved and their supervisory officer, it added.

Lower-ranking officers will instead be allowed to use ordinary phones that do not have the video recording feature.

Rawalpindi CPO Faisal Rana held a meeting with police officers in this regard and later forwarded written instructions to relevant officers against illegally detaining citizens and torturing them.

Instructions were also given on the use of mobile phones by lower ranked officers, while recording and uploading videos of on-duty officers was also ‘strictly forbidden’.

The move comes a day after the Punjab IG issued a warning letter to senior police personnel over custodial deaths.

Nawaz also said that the internal accountability branch had already been issued standing orders which would automatically come into effect on the report of any such incident.

The police chief warned that DPOs, SPs, SDPOs and supervisory officers would be held responsible if any such case surfaced again in the future. He asserted that all related officials would undergo a departmental inquiry.

He directed police officials to ensure implementation of orders for supremacy of the rule and law.

At least three cases had come to light last week of deaths caused by alleged police torture, and videos had gone viral on social media of some suspects in a distressed state while in police custody. On September 1, Salahuddin Ayubi, a man who was said to be mentally disabled, had died in police custody in Rahim Yar Khan. On the same day, a middle-aged man had passed away in Lahore after allegedly being tortured by Gujjarpura police in an illegal torture cell that was unearthed last month.

Reports also emerged that a gardener named Amir Masih had died after being illegally detained in an alleged police torture cell in Lahore.